Saturday, 19 May 2007

Un Peu Loufoque and the broken spell

It was such a delight to wake this morning with the birds song and feel the gentle warm breeze against my skin, lying with my eyes closed I sensed the tent about me and smelt of the women’s jasmine perfume mingle with wood smoke in the air. If only I had already commenced my forthcoming activities as a lady painter I might have captured the bright images within my head on canvas for posterity!

I bestirred myself thrilled with the knowledge that we had camped “au savage” by the river and looked up to see towering above me , Who else but Marron who had been left to roam free last evening and finding the night a tad chill had taken it upon himself to share our shelter! A lesser woman would have screamed but not I ! I merely pulled my rug around my shoulders and taking his bridle led him quietly down to the river to drink, my hair lose down my back like a gypsy princess and my feet bare. It was such a delicious experience that I was quite lost in revelry imaging myself to be Gertrude Bell leading my steed across the Wadi, oblivious to the figure standing regarding me from beneath the overhanging oak trees.

With a gently cough to alert me of his presence, Henri Jacque Le Cravacher stepped out of the shadows, come to check on the well being of the horse and us too it would appear. I soundlessly handed over Marron not a little flustered to be caught so in my nightwear by a man and a servant at that, even if he is as yet an unpaid and un-liveried one, and walked back towards our tent far too self conscious, like some befuddled schoolgirl, to continue on to the river and wash myself in the cool water as I had fully intended.

As if by the breaking of some magic spell the camp came to life, the fire was re lit and a petite déjeuner prepared of strong black Arabian coffee, fresh fruit and yesterday’s cold chicken accompanied by flat unleavened bread baked on a stone by the fire. Such simple but exotic fair. I would that I could take up our pony trap and piling the children there in, set off with Madame Grognonne and Henri like some potentates caravan onwards across Brittany southwards to the regions of the sun where we could camp each night under the olive trees and lie awake in the warm star filled night listening to the songs of the cicadas.

Alas as ever propriety beckoned me back and reluctantly we returned Chez Nous to our daily lives and to civilization such as it is. For surely it would not do for Chief Patissier to return unannounced and find me absent disporting myself like some sultans dancing girl in a tented harem amidst the Arab folk. Bearing in mind his rather austere traditional French bourgeoisie background he can at times be remarkably bohemian but even in his wildest moments of excess I can not imagine he would countenance my behaving thus! His first thought would be of the effect upon his biscuit sales and our social standing in the locality. Such are the responsibilities of the upper classes alas!

On our return I was relieved to find the cellar still intact and the silver untouched, although it would appear that Henri experienced some minor difficulty with the shutting of the hen house and had therefore wisely taken the flock into the kitchen for safe keeping over night where they had evidently roosted upon the clothes drier above the range , which unfortunately had left the place in rather a deplorable state.

However after Madame Grognonne had been at it with a mop and broom for an hour or so no one would have been any the wiser except perhaps should they have chanced to notice the foot prints in the butter dish. In their excitement the poultry do seem to have also managed to somehow knock over several bottles of Chief Patissier’s Best Cognac but by a judicious mixing of a concoction of eau de vie, cheap brandy and cooking sherry and cold tea I am sure we can refill the bottles and he will never notice.

It would appear that Henri may have been slightly overcome with the fumes from the spilt cognac, and suspect the poor considerate man may well have been up until the early hours attempting to clean the floor himself. He must had done a passable job for although still covered in chicken excrement there was not a drop of cognac left on the floor at all !He certainly seemed a trifle unsteady on his feet, which I can only presume to be fatigue, so I therefore sent him off to his corner of the hayloft to rest. Madame Grognonne said very generously that she would accompany him in case he had trouble navigating the stairs. She returned briefly ten minutes later looking rather dishevelled and prepared a hasty cold buffet lunch for myself and the children then asked to be excused herself as she said he felt the fumes so from the cognac may have effected her too. I must speak to the wine merchant regarding Chief Patissier’s cognac, I am sure at the price he charges it should not have such noxious after effects.

After lunch I left the children to recapture the poultry and shoo them outside into the orchard whilst I took myself upstairs for some moments of quiet contemplation. As I stood in my bare studio looking out across the meadows and woodland I caught a glimpse through the distant hills with the old road passing over it and the blue haze of the sunshine shimmering on its warm surface. Ah how my heart years for the open road!

I do hope Chief Patissier returns soon with my artists supplies I fear if he does not I shall find me flown south like the birds of the winter!


The illustration is a painting of a landscape by Degas, entitled “landscape with hills” painted between 1890 and 1893. It reminds me of my view from the studio. I do hope I do not take as long to complete my works of art, perhaps he was so enchanted by the view he spent too considerable a time staring at it, which one can not help but feel marks a distinct lack of self discipline on his part. I wonder if that is why he rarely painted landscapes? One imagines that is one took such time painting a portrait eh sitter might well complain at being expected to hold the same pose for an entire year,and quite justifiably too in my opinion.


Pondside said...

What a jaunt that was for our Un Peu. I an afraid that she is really too refined and innocent for this world. I hope Mm le chef returns soon as I fear that the new 'groom' is up to no good.
Can't wait for the next installment!

bodran... said...

I agree completely..loved it x

lampworkbeader said...

I've done quite a bit of wild camping myself but never in such luxury. Pleeeze can I come too next time.
Loved it! Thanks

lixtroll said...

What a good job biscuit-sales and common-sense prevailed, otherwise who knows what could become of Un Peu - it wouldn't do for her to appear to be getting up to the same shenanigans as Mme G & Henri!

I love today's picture, a pastel I think, with the lovely edges of the picture showing.

sally's chateau said...

Oh yes I can just so sense the 'gypsy' in you by your descriptive turns of phrase and I imagine that you quite enjoy running with gay abandon barefooted through the long wild grass barefoot ?

Cait O'Connor said...

Thank you, just what I needed - to be taken away. What lovely blogs you write. The camping trip sounds appealing, amongst the olive trees.
I loved the pic. I have posted the first of my favourite paintings today.
Hope your artist supplies arrive!

Cait O'Connor said...

Rowland Hilder, thanks for that. I will look him up. I am going to enjoy posting pics from now on.

muddyboots said...

such excitement, camping & pony & traps, whatevery next? Oh please be careful camping in exotic places, turn your boots upside down & give them a good shake b4 putting them on just in case something nasty like a scorpion has crawled inside for a rest. l hear the Aussies have marvelous hats with corks suspended from the brim? this might help keep mosquitos away from one's face.

Frances said...

Bon soir from New York.
I am very late in catching up with my reading, but very glad to know that UPL has returned home.
I do, however, wonder at the the reunion that still awaits her and the now long absent CP.
(I also admit that I wondered at first if you had posted one of the Degas pastel landscapes that are not really landscapes. I think that this one is a landscape, but may not have fully decoded it.)
Pleasant dreams.

Fennie said...

Now if you want to improve wine or cognac, so that Chief Patissier won't notice, just stick the bottle in the microwave and 'zap' it. One 'zap' equals one year of ageing - or thereabouts. But, I forgot, microwaves probably do not exist Madame Grognonne's kitchen - you'll just have to do it the hard way.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Oh dear Un peu caught and on the edge . . .